Dream debut for new Under-18s defender against Cottagers
Spurs 3-0 Fulham (Under-18 Premier League)
Sat 03 October 2020, 14:56|Tottenham Hotspur
New signing Maksim Paskotsi marked his debut for our Under-18s with a goal, assist and clean sheet as we continued our unbeaten start to the Under-18 Premier League season with a 3-0 win at home to Fulham on Saturday.
The 17-year-old Estonian centre-back has joined us from Flora Tallinn and made a terrific start at Hotspur Way, setting up Dane Scarlett for our second goal before guiding in a perfect volley to complete the scoring after we’d weathered the Fulham storm for much of the second half.
Yago Santiago had earlier given us the lead, but we were indebted to goalkeeper and captain Thimothee Lo-Tutala for a series of one-on-one saves as the visitors rallied after the break.
The opener came after 14 minutes as Nile John’s corner was driven into the mix by Dermi Lusala, with Santiago turning home amid a crowded six-yard box.
Lo-Tutala made a crucial save from Mika Biereth after Lusala had been robbed by Kieron Bowie, who was then flagged off-side as he converted the rebound from a tight angle, while Alfie Devine fired wide at the other end. We could have doubled our lead on 24 minutes but Tarrelle Whittaker’s angled shot was saved by goalkeeper Damian Las at his near post and Scarlett could only drag wide on the rebound.
The second goal eventually came eight minutes later as Paskotsi headed the ball forward into the box, it bounced and Scarlett’s poacher’s instinct saw him get to it marginally ahead of Las in the goalmouth, nodding the rising ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
Devine and John were denied right at the end of the first half by a good defensive block and stunning save from Las respectively, but Fulham upped their game in the second period and caused us problems. Lo-Tutala denied Bowie one-on-one with his legs on 48 minutes and repelled a driven ball towards the near post from the same player moments later. Luke Harris then glanced a free header wide for the visitors, Bowie was narrowly off-target and Lo-Tutala had to be at his best once more to keep out Harris’ shot from inside the area.
Biereth also saw an attempt blocked in the box and in truth it took until the 77th minute for us to have our first real chance of the second half, Scarlett chesting substitute Roshaun Mathurin’s left-sided cross down into the path of Dante Cassanova, whose strike from inside the area was deflected wide for a corner.
Three minutes later, from another corner, we put the game to bed with a third goal. John played the set-piece short to Santiago, whose cross from the right was brilliantly met by Paskotsi with a cushioned half-volley that looped over the goalkeeper and sailed inside the far post from the left angle. Devine was left kicking himself two minutes later for not making it four after latching onto Santiago’s clever pass through the back line, with the midfielder’s low shot kept out by the fingertips of Las down to his right. Khalon Haysman and Renaldo Torraj, both off the bench for their first league appearances at this level, tried shots from distance late on, but we’d already done enough to secure another impressive win.
Taylor pleased with first-half showing
Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor praised his players for the way they controlled the game in the first half, but admitted the Cottagers were stronger after the interval: “It was an excellent first half – some of our patterns of play and the way we moved the ball was top-drawer,” he said. “The scoreline of 2-0 at half-time can be dangerous, you can at times think you’ve won the game and all credit to Fulham – in the second half they were much better. We probably didn’t perform as well in the second half as we did in the first half but we hung in there and Thimi, our goalkeeper, was outstanding and made two or three fantastic saves to keep it at 2-0. Fortunately we had a little bit of quality at the end and we managed to get the third goal from Maksim, which was really pleasing for him on his debut, so all-in-all it’s a really pleasing win for us. We’ve kept a clean sheet, but Fulham showed that they’re a good team. In the first half we were in complete control of the game and then in the second half we knew it was going to be difficult. In terms of the development of the players, they’ve had to stay in the game and they’ve really had to earn that result today.”
On goalkeeper Lo-Tutala’s performances since being appointed captain at the start of the season, Matt added: “Thimi has taken on that leadership role extremely well but he’s performing alongside that on the pitch. He’s taken to the position that he’s got within the group as a leader – as have some of the other second-years – and I was really pleased for him to perform so well and keep a clean sheet.”
Spurs 3-0 Fulham (Under-18 Premier League)
Spurs: Lo-Tutala (c), Cassanova (Haysman 83), Hackett, Matthew Craig, Paskotsi, Lusala, Whittaker (Mathurin 75), Devine, Scarlett, John, Santiago (Torraj 83). Substitutes (not used): Solberg, Kyezu.